Madonna’s been getting some major love from younger artists in recent days. There’s been the hubbub over Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” of course, re: the song’s similarities to both “Express Yourself” and “Vogue” since its debut last Friday. (Followed by some confusion as to whether Madonna personally blessed such sonic appropriation.) Now, less than a week later, The Gossip’s Beth Ditto has taken a page from Ms. Ciccone’s striking visual history. For her new music video, “I Wrote The Book,” Ditto serves up an homage to “Justify My Love.”
Ditto’s modern take is miles more tame than the steamy 1990 original, famously banned by MTV for its suggestive content (bisexuality, voyeurism, S&M, general near-nakedness). Charges of censorship were the subject of an Entertainment Weekly cover story, and landed Madonna a live interview on ABC’s Nightline, which aired the “Justify My Love” video in its entirety. Soon after, the clip was released for sale as a video single, with some charging that Madonna had planned the whole thing, capitalizing on the controversy she knew would erupt.
Hopefully, Ditto’s tip-of-the-hat to some of Madonna’s most notorious imagery will also get folks buzzing, because “I Wrote The Book” deserves the attention, a definite highlight from her debut solo EP. Featuring a strong house beat, it recalls the techno-pop of Inner City’s “Big Fun,” one of my favorite tunes of all time.
The “I Wrote The Book” video also incorporates a bit of “Vogue,” too, as seems de rigueur these days among younger pop stars. Now if only Ditto could have somehow cast a shirtless Tony Ward circa 1990 for her new clip, I’d be a very happy boy, indeed.
Of course, with photographer David LaChapelle suing Rihanna for appropriating his imagery for her latest video, “S&M” (how topically fitting), it might not be a bad move for Beth Ditto to consult a lawyer just in case Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who directed “Justify My Love,” isn’t so enamored with her modern homage.